Neemija Arbitblatas

The artist Neemija Arbit Blatas (1909–1999) was born in Kaunas. He studied at Kaunas School of Art. He is an exceptional Litvak painter with an international creative path. Arbit Blatas studied at the art school in Paris. ‘The student of Jacob Mesenblum and Justinas Vienožinskis was strongly affected by his encounter with modern art and the friendships in the capital of arts with living masters of modernism – Maurice Utrillo, Pierre Bonnard, Pablo Picasso, Maurice de Vlaminck, and others. In Paris, the recognisable, expressive and spontaneous style of the painter matured and was revealed.

Reference: Description of the "Meetings" exhibition. - M. K.Čiurlionis National Museum of Art, Kaunas.

Arbit Blatas was a painter, sculptor and set designer. He was born on 19 November 1908 in Kaunas. He studied art in Dresden from 1924 to 1926, and later in Berlin under Kornsans. Between 1926 and 1932 he studied in Paris at the Académie Julian and the Académie de la Grande Chaumière under André Lhote, and also painted in Normandy. In 1929 he began to participate in the Paris Autumn Salon. He held solo exhibitions in Kaunas in 1926, 1927 (together with A. Šimkūnas), 1929, 1930 and 1933, and in 1934 and 1936 in Paris. He was an active participant in artistic life in Kaunas in the 1920s and 1930s, and in 1932 he opened a private art gallery. He painted several portraits of Lithuanian cultural figures (P. Tarulis, S . B inkienė, and the film director J. V aičkus) in the 1930s. He settled in the USA in 1939, and from there he travelled regularly to Paris and Venice (where he bought a house on Giudecca Island, staying and painting there every year). Arbit Blatas was granted American citizenship in 1941. In 1975, he married Regina Resnik, a singer with the New York Metropolitan Opera. He designed stage sets and costumes for operas (Carmen, Electra, Salomėja, The Queen of Spades) and seven bas-reliefs Calamity at the New Ghetto wall in Venice (1993). He was awarded the French Légion d’honneur in 1978, and in 1994 he was appointed Officer of the Légion d’honneur.

Blatas died in New York on 27 April 1999. In 2011, a posthumous exhibition of his work called ‘Arbit Blatas. Return to the Homeland’ opened in Vilnius, which displayed works by the artist donated to Lithuania by Ms Regina Resnik.

Reference: Art album "The World of Landscapes" (Volume II). Catalogue. Compiled by N. Tumėnienė. Vilnius, LAWIN, 2013, P. 216.

A. Blatas was the youngest member of the Paris school. He arrived in Paris in 1926 to study, but stayed there until 1939. Only when it became dangerous to stay in Europe, due to the threat of Fascism, did he leave for the USA. He chose Bonnard, Utrillo, Pissaro and Vlaminck as his artistic guides, and was attracted by the vividness of Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and Expressionism. He came to love Paris and its artistic atmosphere, and the city responded with reciprocal appreciation. In 1936, the Jeu de Paume museum bought a picture of his, and later the main galleries of Paris frequently displayed his works.

Reference: Art album "The World of Landscapes" (Volume II). Compiled by N. Tumėnienė. Vilnius, LAWIN, 2013, P. 106.